Sometimes you hear people say that they have no rhythm…perhaps some of you feel that way. But I think the truth is that rhythm isn’t something you get to have. Rhythm isn’t something that you own or posses…it’s something you join into. Lean into this idea with me a bit.
Last week we talked quite a bit about breath. Place your hand on your chest. Let’s quietly feel for our breath.
In and out, signifying our life…rhythm
Keep your hand there for a moment, but this time feel for your heartbeat…
You’re heart, your pulse, the basic beat of your life…you have a rhythm. It’s inside you
Close your eyes for a moment and just listen…listen to the sound of the waves as they crash and recede again…or the sounds of the birds chirping a beat
Think for a moment about the seasons and the way our planet cools in the winter and warms in the summer…the way things sprout up then whither away…
We don’t control these things. No human invented rhythm. It permeates our bodies, our world, and must also be a part of our life.
We need the rhythms of sleep and wakefulness, we need the rhythm of the work week and the weekend. And when we don’t honor these rhythms, we get off balance and out of sync with the world around us and even within ourselves. It is necessary for our mental, spiritual and physical health to have times of work and times of rest, to have rhythm.
I encourage you to listen closely for things like rhythm that resonate deep within you. I believe these are things that are not the work of our hands, but that hum deeply from the ancient core of our creation. Things that beckon to the imprint of God’s very being inside each of us. The light inside me that recognizes the light inside you…namaste as the yogi’s say. The cry of the wild geese overhead that announces your place in the family of things as the poet Mary Oliver says. The innate desire to care for creation. The comforting curves of the labyrinth as we travel through it. Each of these in its own way characterizes or beckons to us deeply as we’ve seen in these weeks of sacred gathering.
I’m reminded of how sheep respond to their shepherd. I saw a video once where a large group of visitors to a sheep farm stood at the fences and called to the sheep on the other side. The sheep paid little or no notice. Then the shepherd came to the fence. He gave a call, and immediately the sheep came running. That shepherds call resonates in them. Despite the visitors best efforts to imitate the shepherd, it wasn’t until the sheep heard this particular voice that they came running.
It’s far from a perfect metaphor. Surely the sheep associate the shepherd with food, and its their bellies that urge them toward their caretaker. But perhaps its our spiritual bellies that urge us toward our caretaker. Perhaps these rhythms, poetry, scriptures, physical activity, labyrinths, and the rest feed our souls in a way that beckons us toward the provider of this spiritual food.
In the book of John, Jesus uses the metaphor of the sheep and the shepherd to talk about how God’s voice resonates within us. Whether you are a firm believer in scripture or not, whether you consider Jesus God or not, wherever you are on your journey and in your understanding of the spiritual realm, I have no doubt that we recognize that voice..that we can identify with that beckoning to us, calling to us, the rhythm that comes from beyond ourselves…but perhaps that’s not always easy. Perhaps like the sheep, it is not until we are lost or scared or hurt or ill or desperate in someway and we wildly bleat…calling out to a shepherd, a God, we are not even sure exists.
Scripture tells us that even Jesus himself cried out from the cross “O God O God why have you forsaken me?”
We’ve all been there. And perhaps we hope for something more comfortable than the crook around our neck hauling us away from danger. But in my experience, the help always comes. Maybe not in a way that I would hope for, maybe it doesn’t solve all my problems and wrap them in a nice bow, but we’ve all had the experience of a friend calling at just the right moment, or a serendipitous meeting, or a miraculous recovery…a resurrection moment. Or maybe its not even in the moment, but when we look back on our lives we see how we were rescued from a worse fate.
As we experience todays rhythms, those that exist around us all the time. As we tune into our spiritual bellies and the ways we do or do not feed them. As we continue our spiritual journey, let us listen for the voice of truth that breaks down walls and opens hearts. Let us seek, growing in relationship with, and recognizing the voice of our creator, the good shepherd, whose perfect imprint is in each of us.